‘I was the new girl’
October 21, 2018
Editor’s Note: Kayla’s Korner will be a reoccurring column that deals with mental health and teenage issues. This is the fourth of an eight part story.
My anxiety was at an all time high. I was walking into a room where I knew absolutely no one. I usually get anxiety when this happens at school, such as if I have a class where I do not have any friends in. This was totally different. In those classes, I know the people, I just am not friends with them. But here, I knew absolutely no one.
I did not even know what to do. Everyone was sitting on chairs that were arranged in a straight line facing a large television set. They were all sprawled out along the chair and across the floor, either playing cards, talking, or writing in marble notebooks.
I felt so awkward, so I walked very slow, trying to delay having to meet and introduce myself to everyone there. I was the new girl.
When I was about halfway to the chairs, someone finally noticed that I was walking in. She smiled at me and waved, so I took that as I should sit next to her since she was friendly.
As soon as I sat down next to her, most of the other teenagers realized I was there and introduced themselves.
It was kind of strange because normally when you introduce yourself, you just talk about you. But in an inpatient facility, the first thing people ask are “Why are you here?”
Everyone there was very nice and really tried to make me feel as welcome as I could be in a place like that.
At the time, my inpatient facility had about eight teenagers ranging from 12 to 17 years old. There was also three younger kids who were usually separated from the teenagers. They were all kids under 12 years old.
Even though it was my first day, most of the teenagers were all talking about getting out of the inpatient facility and how they could not wait to be on their phones or see their friends.
I quickly realized that you do not stay here for long and I would not be the new girl for very long. The day I came, there was two other people that also came earlier in the day. It was a common thing for a few people to come each day as it balanced out the few people that left each day.
I quickly became friendly with a few of the teenagers and one of the younger kids. As I had gotten there around dinner time, it soon became visiting hours.
At this facility, visiting hours were only 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and weekends, and then on weekends, there were additional hours in the afternoon.
My parents were the only ones that could visit me. I could not see my sister or any of my friends.
After visiting hours were concluded, we had about an hour or so to do whatever. There was not really much to do. The television was on, but it was usually just a sports game for the guys that were there. I usually either colored or played cards.
We went to sleep around 9:30 p.m. each night. If you took medication at night, which I do, you would be administered that around 9 p.m.
I was very confused the first night since I was new to everything. My mom had dropped off clothes and a journal for me that I brought into my room.
The first night I was there, I had a roommate. She was the girl that was friendly with me when I first walked in.
We spent a lot of the night talking about our lives.
When she drifted off to sleep, I could not stop thinking “this place is so weird”. The whole facility was made so there would be nothing you could hurt yourself with.
We could not even have our own toothbrushes or a toothpaste bottle. They gave us disposable cups of toothpaste and a small toothbrush each night.
I did not know how to feel. I wanted to feel better, but I honestly did not know if this place would help. I hoped for the best, though.
I had the bed closest to the door and the lights outside were always kept on as people walked in the hallways. Nurses and staff constantly checked in on each room making sure that everything was okay.
I finally was able to sleep and was awoken the next morning by a staff member at around 7 a.m. She asked if I wanted to shower and I responded no. She wrote that down and told me to go outside and get my vitals and temperature taken.
I walked down the hallway with my roommate and we both checked in and got our vitals and temperatures taken along with the rest of the teenagers.
Since it was my first actual day there, I had to get blood drawn. Following that, I got ready and waited in the living room for everyone to meet in there. Usually when everyone was there, breakfast arrived.
The food, if I am being honest, was not great. It was actually horrible, but I did not really expect anything amazing. Most of the time, I was not hungry and did not feel like eating.
At each meal, we got a set of plastic utensils and at the end of each meal, we had to return them. If they were not accounted for, you would get in big trouble. If you accidentally threw them out, you needed to find them. This may sound kind of stupid, as I thought it did, but these could be used as tools to hurt yourself so the staff needed to make sure that they got them back.
When breakfast was over, we would have our first session of the day where we would talk about if we had problems with any staff and go over the rules of the inpatient facility.
Following that, we would start school. On the weekdays, we would have school in the morning where if we had any work, we would work on that with tutors and such. Since it was the summer, though, only the teenagers that had been there earlier had tutors. During this time, I colored or worked on summer assignments that I knew I had.
Lunch came shortly after this which was again not that good. This was around 12 a.m.
Once lunch ended, we had free time for a little while and then we had a group session. Groups could be really anything. Sometimes we had art therapy. Sometimes we talked about ourselves and our feelings. One time we played jenga.
Some time throughout the day, you would also meet with your given psychiatrist each day. They would be the one to tell you when you would be discharged from the inpatient facility. I really liked mine.
If it was nice outside after group, we would sometimes go outside. The outside was just a small area that had a basketball hoop and grass. It was similar to the size of a room and you could not see outside because it was fenced in.
Following this would be dinner time which was around 4 p.m. After dinner, we would have more free time until visiting hours.
On Fridays and Saturdays, once visiting time was finished, we would have movie night. I remember that we watched “Harry Potter” and “High School Musical.”
Twice a day, we would be allowed to have phone calls to our parents.
Then, the day was over and we would head to sleep. I did not have a roommate for the rest of the time, because mine was switched into another room.
I was lonely a lot of the time all by myself. I looked forward to the day I would leave. But after a few days in the inpatient facility, I began to realize it was helping me.
Coming next: Kayla explains leaving the inpatient facility and going to High Focus.